Proven Research Tools for Revealing User Insights

No two research efforts are alike. That’s because no two design challenges and no two patients are alike. Though these truths challenge our researchers to constantly redefine their work, the team has developed some go-to tactics that consistently produce meaningful, often unspoken, insights that define a project.

While the following list is by no means exhaustive, these tools have proven particularly useful for needs-based research conducted in the healthcare and general wellness verticals.

See something you like? Try it out! You’ll need supplies for taking notes, a fresh pad of Post-its® and at least one camera.


Discovery Kits are custom-designed research tools (often in the form of a box or bag) that stay with a respondent for an extended period (from a few days to a week or more). Each Kit includes various activities – journaling, questionnaires, video documentation, roleplaying, time mapping, etc. – designed for each project to illicit insights that are difficult to ascertain via traditional research methods.

The Kits are especially useful for sensitive subjects that some patients find difficult to discuss. They also cater to the diversity of personality types common in a research sample. Our more verbal respondents enjoy activities such as interviews, while the more introverted ones prefer writing, collaging and other reflective activities. In either case, our researchers make sure to design the Kits to allow for a variety of voices to be heard by including a range of activities.


Vision360 is a tool for documenting complex medical procedures, including interactions among healthcare providers, their devices and the equipment. It consists of four to six small cameras mounted at various key locations in a clinical environment. The video from each camera is synced to provide the viewer with a comprehensive look into a procedure, from the most critical angles.

This approach proves incredibly useful for visualizing and explaining a complicated process. In some instances we’ve combined the footage with a voiceover from the surgeon (a “directors cut”) to further define the steps of his/her procedure. We’ve also used these files to expose interactions that go undefined or have become second nature.


The Total Product Life Cycle (TPLC) is the FDA’s searchable database for premarket and postmarket data about medical devices. It includes information pulled from CDRH databases including Premarket Approvals (PMA), Premarket Notifications (510[k]), Adverse Events and Recalls. The information is linked back to the FDA’s Manufacturer and User Facility Device Experience database, which can be used for further product research.

This resource is the first place Worrell’s Human Factors team consults ahead of defining Usability Specifications or conducting a Preliminary Hazard Analysis. The information provides the team with a leg up in the design process by detailing the hazards and usability issues documented from the use of similar products. Once these issues are known, the design teams can resolve them before the device is formally tested. It’s like having the answers to a test before you take it.


Workflow Mapping is an activity our researchers use, as a part of our in-depth interviews, to understand a participant’s interaction with a product or process. In the activity, stickers, Post-its® and/or cards are used to enable the participant to describe a sequence of events. Prompts may be used to help the participant explain a scenario, which allows our team to extract differences between what happens in the hospital vs. what happens in the home.

This activity is very useful for allowing both the researcher and the participant to see all of the steps of a process in one visual, ensuring that nothing is missed. Once a map is created, it can be compared to the others, quickly revealing what is working or not working with a particular product. The exercise also helps our clients get a sense for how their product fits in the greater context of a user’s day/week/life.


CENSYS™ is Worrell’s proprietary research tool, created as an alternative to conventional marketing research systems. It is a metric-based algorithm, used in conjunction with ethnographic research techniques, to systematically discover customer delights, while predicting customer preferences in highly competitive markets.

Where there is room to debate feature sets and product specifications, CENSYS cuts through opinions and assumptions to reveal opportunities for increasing market share by providing clarity on how to best direct the innovation assets that are most likely to deliver value to the customer.

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